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Statement from the Regional Advisory Group for North Africa & West Asia on the Beirut explosion

30 August 2020

GNDR’s Regional Advisory Group members for North Africa & West Asia have developed this statement in collaboration with RAED, to express their deep sorrow, solidarity and support to the people of Lebanon affected by the explosion that blasted the port of Beirut on August 4th, 2020. The explosion killed at least 200 people and injured about 5,000 people, according to the BBC. It created a shock wave that severely damaged roads and buildings, shattering glass for miles. About 300,000 people were immediately displaced. According to local assessments, as many as 500,000 people may need assistance with immediate needs such as food, clothing, and shelter.

This blast comes at a difficult time for the people of Lebanon. The country has the world’s highest concentration of refugees (about 30% of the population) including 1.5 million Syrians. An ongoing economic crisis has led to power cuts, a lack of safe drinking water, limited public healthcare, high unemployment, and protests. Moreover, Covid-19 response is stretching the capacity of hospitals to provide services.

Lebanon’s economic crisis is impacting many people in the country, who saw their income cut 10 times and all their savings being wiped out. It led to the disappearance of the middle class, with many families being unable to provide education for their children. We ask that international recovery support also focuses on supporting children and youth, and their families.

Since the incident, the Lebanese government has been almost paralyzed, with cabinet resigning and deep political tensions. The Lebanese army has been given the responsibility to communicate and coordinate between all actors providing support: we ask the United Nations to help these efforts, by providing technical expertise and coordination support to the Lebanese Army, as well as assisting in managing the recovery.

We praise the efforts of the international community in supporting the Lebanese people to overcome the current situation. We also recognise the essential work that civil society organisations are doing to help recovering and supporting communities most at risk. It is essential that the response plans currently in place consider building back better and take into account preventative measures to ensure disasters do not happen again in the future. CSOs have repeatedly demonstrated their active role in supporting efforts to build back better.

We believe that stronger collaboration among CSOs, a strong shift towards localisation and a focus on risk-informed development are key elements of strengthening community resilience to disasters. As members of GNDR, we stand by its global strategy “Local Leadership for Global Impact” which emphasises these three key elements. We look forward to learning lessons from members and other CSOs in Lebanon and sharing them within the region and beyond, to prevent similar disasters to happen again.

 

Mr Bijay Kumar
Executive Director, GNDR

Dr Emad Adly
General Coordinator, RAED

 

RAED - The Arab Network for Environment and Development is a regional Arab network established in 1990, composed of more than 300 CSOs from 19 countries working in the field of environment, development, climate change, chemicals and disaster risk reduction, etc. RAED has an observing status in the League of Arab States, representing Arab CSOs. Moreover, RAED and many of its members constitute the Hub for the Arab region in the GNDR.

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